Spiders in the Canary Islands - I spy the spider and the fly

No need to fear these natural born killers

Spiders are a source of fear for many people but not for me because I find them truly fascinating creatures and have been on the lookout for the different types found on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. I haven't had to go far to find them and spotted a Jumping Spider that had caught a fly on the wall outside.

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Tenerife spider photos

Jumping spider and fly
Jumping spider and fly
Stretch or Long-jawed orb spider
Stretch or Long-jawed orb spider
Tent web spider
Tent web spider
Crab spider on Ice Plant
Crab spider on Ice Plant

What is it about spiders?

I posted a message about it and a photo on an online forum I am a regular at and ended up with people posting about how horrible it was and how Jumping Spiders could leap on to you. This seemed a fairly typical reaction from people but I am hoping that this article might just help the spider's public image a bit.

Spiders are incredible animals and are adapted to so many different habitats. It's not just their web-spinning talents I am referring to because some are experts at camouflage.

On a recent visit to Parque del Drago in Icod I spotted some very strange spiders, which had made their homes on the edge of one of the garden ponds there. Their webs were suspended from overhanging plants.

On the surface of the water were very many Pond-skaters, a bug that is common in Britain and that has fascinated me since childhood with its ability to live and move at a high speed across whatever pool, lake or river it is on.

This insect can fly and that is how it finds a new place to live and it feeds on small flies and other creatures, which have fallen in and are caught in the surface film. The spiders were thin and black in colour and had long spindly legs just like large Pond-skaters. Perhaps they look like this to lure the true pond-skaters to their doom I thought.

From the air they could be mistaken for one of these bugs and so perhaps this would help to entice any that were flying over to land. Bearing in mind that the insects get there in that way, how do the spiders manage to find such a pool I wondered, especially considering that fresh water isn't exactly common in Tenerife.

One spider called the Tent-web Spider that is very common here spins its large webs in bushes and among cacti and shrubs and the females often have a cocoon of eggs in the middle of theirs. It is very distinctive with white spikes like little thorns on its dark grey or blackish body.

This spider's web has many supporting lines to anchor it and it forms quite a large dome like construction into which unwary insects fly or fall. Often this species likes to live in small colonies with one living next to another and quite a large area covered in web.

The Crab Spider doesn't spin a web at all but rather it lurks in hiding amongst plants with its front legs outstretched on either side looking like a mini version of the crustacean it is named after. I was taking photos of the pretty little Ice plant one day when I spotted a wonderful creamy yellow Crab Spider hiding among the flower heads.

On another occasion I was with my friend Lisa-Marie at the end of a day's excursion with a travel company and we had been taken to the Tenerife Pearl showrooms for the last half hour. Neither of us had the interest in the pearls nor anywhere near the money needed to buy them so we went to have a look at what we could find in the plant life at the edge of the car park.

In no time at all I spotted an orb web and a magnificent long-legged spider with yellowish striped markings on its body and legs. I called Lisa over and told her that I thought it was a Wasp Spider.

This is a spider that is colonising Britain from continental Europe but whether they have been found on Tenerife I am not sure. When I got home I had a look in my book Naturaleza de las Islas Canarias and found a colour picture of a spider called Aculepeira annulipes that looked as if it could be the species we had found too.

I am afraid I couldn't find any shorter English name and I really can't be sure if it was one of these or a Wasp Spider. Whatever it was, it was a highlight of my day so maybe you should all call me Spiderman?

Footnote: First published in the Tenerife Sun, January 2006.

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Comments 12 comments

CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

The best thing about spiders is that they eat flies! I think you do a great service to the spider community with this hub Steve.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks Chris! Looking at this again I realised that the last paragraphs and photo was missing so have added them now!


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

I will forever refer to you now as the SpiderMan!  A woman of "few phobias," spiders happen to freak me out, yet as a teacher, I do find a morbid fascination with them - at a distance.   They do make me do an interesting dance should one happen to leap on me. 

I AM fascinated by any web they weave, what a design they create!  Come into my web - said the spider to the fly....  =)

Bard/Spiderman, you and CJ are great teachers with your descriptions and excursions.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Marisue!

I love spiders and tend to leave them if I find any living in my place. There is a very spindly type known as the Cellar Spider that I had in my house in Wales and amazingly I have one here too, which is up in the corner of the ceiling by the curtain rail.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

When I was teaching first grade, we caught a spider web on black construction paper - sprayed it with hairspray and studied the pattern.  I felt bad for stealing the spider's home, but it was for education, so I hoped she didn't mind. I was glad she wasn't using it at the time. Ouch!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

Does spiderman have any suggestions for keeping them out of the house, short of murdering them? We live in a new house in a subdivision that was on an old cattleranch. More varieties of spiders than I've ever seen in one place in my entire life. Have an allergy to insect bites so while I'm not afraid of spiders, I'm not happy about finding them inside on a daily basis.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your posts, Marisue and Jerilee!

Jerilee, I am afraid I don't! I think spiders and people have always lived together even though a lot of people don't like them. Our buildings offer them good shelters out of the wind and rain. It probably started when people lived in caves because many species of spiders still live in these natural homes.

All you can do is put them outside away from your house or you could try thinking of them as helping keep down the biting insects. Not much help, I know!


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

You know what's a fascinating killer? The Myrmeleontida (antlion).


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

They live here, but I have to stop Tiggy my cat killing them when they fly in!


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

I wish they lived here. All we have are "palmetto bugs" (hick for cockroaches) and occasionally the dragonfly, which is a pleasant surprise!


Trsmd profile image

Trsmd 8 years ago from India

I found a bold jumping spider, species name Phidippus audax


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I love jumping spiders. Sometimes they come in my apartment and climb the walls and ceiling and I leave them there.

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